October 13, 2016
The Life Intended, by Kristin Harmel. I liked this one. Sweet, engaging, well-developed and likable characters, and an interesting plot. The main character is a woman named Kate, whose husband died 12 years earlier. She becomes engaged to her boyfriend of two years, but she's not happy and begins to have dreams about her dead husband. These dreams lead her down a path of discovery, and that's about all I can say without getting into spoiler-territory. I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to the characters at the end, which is always a sign of a good book.
Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty, by Patrick Lencioni. This is obviously a business book. I've been reading more non-fiction lately, and this one is a very fast read and is very applicable to my work as a business consultant.
Americanah, by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. A beautiful and important book. It is too long, and there is more emphasis on author's observations on race and culture than there is on the plot of the story, but both the plot and those observations are very worthy of reading. As I've said before, my favorite books provide me with a different perspective on the world, and this book definitely does that.
October 12, 2016
My handsome goalie
The sun is coming up a little later and going down a little earlier every day. Getting out of bed in the morning keeps getting harder. Having a good book to read never helps. On the other hand, the chilly weather puts us in the mood for turning on the fireplace, watching football, baking cookies.
A few highlights from the weekend:
*Nathan played in his first soccer tournament. He and most of his friends formed a team and entered our town's Columbus Day weekend tournament. They are all second-graders (ages 7-8), and they played against third-graders. This team hadn't played together before and only had two practices, so we were a little nervous about it, but they did great! They played four games, and they ended the weekend with 3 wins and 1 hard fought loss. It was a really special experience for all of the boys, and even though it was raining all day on Sunday, it was a ton of fun to watch.
*We made these pumpkin cookies - such a great recipe, and it's become an annual fall tradition. (Note: Every time I make them, Kevin complains that there aren't enough chocolate chips in them.)
*My sister-in-law, a friend, and their toddlers came for a visit on Sunday afternoon. It was loud and messy for a while, but we managed to have a nice time relaxing and hanging out, even with the kids in the mix.
*Kevin and the boys played a lot of football together. They have such a great time, until someone inevitably loses and has a tantrum. At some point, they'll learn to deal with losing, right?
*I made this vegetarian chili on Monday. (Note: I only used one chipotle pepper, since it was too spicy for us last time. Also, don't skimp on the cilantro - it is absolutely the key ingredient in this awesome recipe.)
*Kevin and I watched the first two episodes of Westworld. I'm fascinated.
October 6, 2016
- We were able to reschedule our trip, so our Charleston trip will still happen - just a month later than planned.
- Nathan is playing in a soccer tournament this weekend. Because I'll be home, I'll get to watch him play - I'm pretty excited about that.
- It's fall in New England! Gorgeous trees are everywhere.
- New TV shows are starting - This Is Us certainly grabbed me, and I am also excited to see Kiefer Southerland again. Everybody's talking about Westworld - I think I'm going to have to convince Kevin to get HBO.
- Aaron and Nathan made dinner last night - eggs, english muffins, and fruit salad.
- I love finishing a good book and starting a new one.
- Our new sitter is helping out around the house, so I come home to a clean kitchen every day.
- Next year won't be as full of travel as this one was, but we just booked our February ski week - fingers crossed for good weather and snow.
- The boys are working on their Christmas lists, and I keep trying to remind them that it's not even Halloween yet!
- On Monday night, I had worked from home, and the weather was gorgeous, so I suggested a bike ride before dinner. So lovely.
- Dawes' latest album, We're All Gonna Die. Really different from their usual stuff, but I dig it.
September 28, 2016
I've had this blog post sitting in my drafts folder for over a week now. I'm struggling with putting my thoughts into words for some reason. I have nothing profound to say, but I can't seem to calm my mind long enough to organize my thoughts. (Is this a symptom of technology addiction? Or of busyness? Whatever it is, I don't like it. I am feeling the need to head out into the woods in solitude.) So I'm just going to write as if I'm talking to a friend. If it's incoherent, well...a friend would laugh and then forgive me.
Last week, I was walking through downtown Boston, heading from my office to meet with a client, and I was all dressed up in a suit and looking very cute and professional, if I do say so myself. It was a gorgeous and warm September day, and it felt great to be walking outside, even in heels. I looked around at the people in the Boston Common - it's as good a place to people-watch as the airport, maybe better. There were parents with kids, students, homeless people, older people taking power walks and doing tai chi and painting, and other professionals like me, walking quickly in business attire. It made me think about how I wish I interacted more with people who are different from me. It also made me think about how I must look to those around me - a professional woman in her forties. Is that me? I suppose it is, but it somehow often surprises me to realize it nonetheless. There are definitely times when I can own it, and other times I feel like I'm faking it. I feel more comfortable dancing like an idiot with friends, trying to remember the dance moves to 'Thriller'. Does everyone feel this way? I am sure the answer must be yes. Right?
Meanwhile, outside of work, we've all been way too busy, with soccer and baseball games and birthday parties and fun with friends. (Seriously, though - dancing with friends to all our 80's favorites? A really good time.) It's all been great fun, but it has left us tired and craving time to be still, to contemplate, to sit on the couch and watch movies we've seen 100 times before. This weekend, we still have soccer and baseball, but our Saturday night is wide open. The couch beckons.
I'm just going to leave this right here...
September 20, 2016
Truly Madly Guilty, by Liane Moriarty. I was really looking forward to this, since I've enjoyed several of her other books. This one let me down a bit. Overall, it was entertaining and kept me engaged, but I got a bit bored at times. She draws out the big reveal (What happened at the cookout?!) for so long, and by the time I found out, I was almost over it.
The M Train, by Patti Smith. I love this review I saw on Goodreads: "I can't believe Patti Smith wrote a book about drinking black coffee and watching serial crime dramas and it's the best thing I've ever read." I totally agree. This book isn't about anything - there's no plot, no characters outside of Patti herself, and yet I adored the book. Her writing is gorgeous, descriptive, and moving. Patti Smith is an observer of life, and by reading her words and stepping into her life for a bit, I'm inspired to look up more, to make deeper connections (with people, places, and things), and to go on adventures.
Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. I read this one as a part of my book club at work. I haven't yet read her first book - The Happiness Project - although I've read many blog posts by her, so I get the main points. This one defines and organizes themes about how we form and maintain habits. It's nothing ground-breaking, and yet sometimes just by putting a name on something, it can make it that much easier to understand and put into focus. My habit tendency is a Questioner - that is, I only do things when I understand how they benefit me. There are lots of great anecdotes and examples in here, and it was helpful to think about my own habits. An interesting read and worthy of discussion.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein. I really enjoyed this book. It helps that I'm a fan of Sleater-Kinney, which is a love-em-or-hate-em band for sure. I remember seeing them as an opener for Pearl Jam, and my husband complains about them to this day. They are not for everyone, but I've been a fan since I bought the Dig Me Out CD in college after hearing about them through CMJ. Carrie's writing is smart, thoughtful, and honest. She doesn't dish on anyone, and you can tell there's a lot she does hold back - the purpose is to write about the band, about what music means to her, and how the band saved her life.
September 16, 2016
Wearing - Dresses. I've been taking advantage of the warm weather by baring my legs more often. I know that boots and sweater weather is on its way. This may be the most comfortable dress I've ever owned.
Loving - Our Halloween costumes. Yes, I already have them. I'm a planner, and it's fun to get excited.
Eating - Salads every day at lunch. Small dinners. Ice cream. Raisin toast most mornings for breakfast - I'd like to have a healthier option there. I don't like overnight oats, but maybe there's a slow-cooker option that would make sense to try over the winter? Any of you have a suggestion?
Listening - A couple nights ago, Aaron asked me who Bruce Springsteen was. I sighed and realized that I am failing as a parent. We've been playing Bruce since then. Also - Letters to Cleo has a new album coming out, and we have tickets to see them next month (yay!). And a decent amount of Sleater-Kinney, inspired by my reading of Carrie Brownstein's book.
Wanting - Sweaters. It's almost sweater weather!
Reading - I will do a Recently Read post again soon. I just started The Life Intended.
Enjoying - My morning yoga. I've started to fall out of habit again, and I'm not sure how much I will be able to keep it up, but I love it so much.
Drinking - A lot of water. I'm finally back in the habit of carrying my water bottle around at work. It's amazing how much more I drink when I bring it.
Thinking - That I'd like our election to be over. It feels so terrible that nobody is happy with our choices this year. In previous years, I always had an opinion, but I wasn't scared if it didn't go my way. This time, I'm legitimately afraid. And not all that excited the other way either.
Appreciating - My new sitter. In addition to watching the boys after school, she is also helping me out around the house. She's wonderful, the boys like her, and I hope she stays for a long time.
Planning - School-year activities. I have most registrations complete, and the calendar updated. Baseball, soccer, piano, drums (!). I need to update the calendar with the school events, and then I can start thinking about the next vacation. And of course the holidays are rapidly approaching. SO much planning this time of year!
Feeling - A little anxious. I start at a new client next week. New relationships, new commute, new project... Lots of newness can intimidate me.
Working - At being more patient. When I'm going through a change, I lose patience much more easily. I have to remind myself that the boys are going through a transition too - new teachers, new processes, new classmates, new teammates... We all need to allow ourselves time to settle in.
Wondering - When we can go see a movie in the theater again. This is the time of year that good movies start coming out. I know I want to see this one.
Finishing - Stranger Things. Such a fabulous blend of X-Files sci-fi weirdness and 80s nostalgia. The kids make the show - but Winona Ryder is pretty fun to see, too. It's very fun.
September 14, 2016
Just like that, summer is over. It was fun and full and memories were made, and yet part of me wishes it had been slower and included more quiet moments. Getting into the school-year routine almost feels like a bit of a relief. I need more time at home. Thoughts to consider as we plan for next year.
The boys are a couple weeks into the new school year, and we're settling in. My sister-in-law noticed our calendar on the wall and commented that every single day has something written on it. I sighed. School, sports practices and games, music lessons, birthday parties, gatherings with family and friends... It all adds up. I've found it actually requires effort to plan for those free afternoons or weekend days when we can relax.
I said to my husband just the other night that I felt like the pendulum was swinging too far. Too much work, too much busyness, too much stress. Not enough me-time. I'm going through another transition at work, starting at a new client - one with a bad commute - and that's already a stress. I'm also taking on more responsibilities, and I'm worried I may be taking on more than I can handle. We'll see. I do know that I can push back and say no when I need to.
On the positive side, I've been getting on my yoga mat more often, and I love it. I completed an eight-week yoga program over the summer, and I only missed the days I was in Europe. Other than those ten days, I was on my mat five days/week, and it felt amazing. I'm trying to pick up that rhythm again, also incorporating some cardio, because it has a profound affect on my attitude and ability to handle the daily stresses of life.
I'm working on staying in the present. Balancing the need to plan for the future, reflect on the good times in the past, and savor the moment while the moment is happening. Always the challenge, always the desire. What's in this moment right now? A moment to consider my thoughts, think about all of my far-away blog friends and family, my feelings about our life right now. Deliberately taking the time to think is a beautiful thing and one that I want to continue to do as often as possible. Expect to see me here more often again.
September 9, 2016
I swear, I am going to get back into blogging soon. I absolutely miss this space. The kids are back to school, and we're settling down into the school-year routine, which is welcome after a busy and tremendously fun summer.
To cap off our ridiculously fun summer, we spent Labor Day weekend at our family cottages on Lake Ontario. We have gone every year for the past 5-6 years, and I do hope to continue that tradition for as long as possible. When we looked at the calendar, I wasn't sure how to make it work this year, but Aaron pushed and we made it happen. A 7-hour drive is a little tough for a long weekend, but we managed, and it was totally worth it.
The lake is my happy place, and last weekend was absolutely wonderful. The weather was spectacular, and the crowd of people was fun without being too overwhelming. (As much fun as it is to see everyone in the family, it can also make it too difficult to actually catch up with anybody!) My Nathan was the youngest one there, which led to a very relaxed and casual atmosphere. The kids played games, we took walks, swam, hung out and talked, had bonfires both nights, sang, skied, danced, laughed, cooked and ate... It was great. I actually had the opportunity to talk to people and to relax a bit.
It was great sailing weather, but we got some skiing in each day as well.
This felt great!
This was epic. We all gathered on the gazebo and dock to watch the sunset on our last evening. After the sun went down, a few people decided to jump in the lake. Fully clothed. And then proceeded to chant people's names, pressuring them into jumping in as well! It snowballed from there, until every single person was in the lake with their clothes on. Even the neighbors started jumping in! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time, and I will never forget it.
August 22, 2016
We had a lovely visit with my sister and her family in Barcelona. The weather was perfect, and my sister's new home is full of so many amenities that Nathan determined that it was like a "hotel of goodness". Being August, many Spaniards were on vacation, so we had this gorgeous pool mostly to ourselves every day; but there were still enough kids around to participate in soccer matches.
A few highlights from our trip include surprising the boys with a Barca game (Messi scored two goals and Nathan could not have been more excited), an amusement park at Tibidabo, and an evening at a local beach. We also ventured downtown once, although coordinating five little boys can still be a challenge. Mostly, we spent a lot of time by the pool, in my sister's lovely patio, and on one of the many sports fields. I love that this is a trip that my boys will most definitely remember.
Sooooo cool - a definite highlight of the trip!
There were many games of soccer.
The amusement park was fun...
...and the views were spectacular.
Walking Las Ramblas
Oh! And we managed an adult date-night! We overdid it with a final gin and tonic, but it was a fabulous night.
Lots of reading and relaxing by the pool
This is the view from my sister's patio - so pretty!
Another definite highlight - a visit to this beach followed by a wonderful dinner
August 19, 2016
Since we decided to visit my sister in Barcelona for our summer vacation, we wanted to add on a few days in a city that was new to us. We'd have to connect somewhere else anyway, so let's go on an adventure! Flying through Dublin turned out to be cheaper, and I've always wanted to go to Ireland, so we went for it.
It felt like a tease, since we only had a few short days - not long enough to venture out into the Irish countryside, see the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, the Ring of Kerry... - but it was great nonetheless. We did a Viking tour of the city, took the train out to a seaside town called Howth for pretty views and fish & chips, rode bikes through the enormous Phoenix park, toured the Guinness storehouse, and walked a lot. It also allowed us to start getting adjusted to the time change before heading to Spain. There was a little whining along the way, but all in all, it was a pretty fun time and only makes me look forward to one day going back for the full country tour.
sitting on the shore in Howth
Riding bikes through Phoenix Park
A carriage ride to St. Patrick's cathedral from the Guinness storehouse
August 3, 2016
Another fabulous weekend at the Newport Folk Festival. This was our 5th year, and we're getting better and better at maximizing the fun (or more likely, the kids are just getting older and easier to hang out with).
Kevin's sister and brother-in-law joined us on Saturday, and it was a great day in the hot sun. We stayed for Sunday this year too, which was filled with amazing music. We were exhausted by the time we got home Sunday night, but it was a happy exhaustion.
Here's who we saw: The Banditos, John Moreland, Rayland Baxter, Amy Helm, Dave Simonett and Dave Carroll, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Ryan Adams, Norah Jones, and Patti Smith. That was just Saturday!
On Sunday: Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir, Ian Fitzgerald, River Whyless, The Oh Hellos, Brian Fallon, Glen Hansard, Middle Brother, Elvis Costello, and Alabama Shakes. Phew! And that doesn't include the surprise artists we saw in the family tent, where we continue to spend a decent amount of time, this time mostly to escape the sun.
Glen Hansard was my absolute favorite. He owned the Fort stage with his beautiful songs and funny stories from Ireland. The Oh Hellos were awesome and loud and fun. And John Moreland was my favorite new-to-me artist. Beautiful, beautiful music.
Surprise performance by Spirit Family Reunion in the family tent
The Oh Hellos on the Fort stage
We submitted a silly picture and made it on the big screen!
The boys spent an inordinate amount of time building forts to escape the sun
The beautiful view, before the crowds filled in
August 1, 2016
Every Summer weekend seems to be filled with travel and fun. A couple weekends ago (I'm still catching up), we visited our friends in New York. They live in the suburbs of New York City, and we hadn't seen them in too long. You know those friends who are always a pleasure to hang out with? The ones with no drama, just easy and fun to hang out with? These are our friends. They have kids the same ages as ours, and they are all now friends as well, which has only made it that much more rewarding to spend time together.
Saturday included several hours at their beach club, playing in the pool; and then we ventured into the Bronx to attend a Yankees game that evening. It was all tremendous fun, and the kids were upset to have to leave to go home the next day. I have to admit, I wasn't all that excited about it either.
July 28, 2016
I know, I know - it's been a while. I will do some catching up soon. Well, maybe not soon, but at some point. Summer is busy! So many fun things to do. And since work is also pleasantly busy as well at the moment, it doesn't allow time for blogging. But I will check in when I can.
These pictures are from our week on Cape Cod during the first week of July. It seems forever ago already. We rented the same house we stayed in last year - why mess with a good thing? We went with Kevin's family, and we had a wonderful time. The house is two blocks from the beach, and overall, we had really nice weather. It was a week full of beach time, games, spending time with family, morning yoga, bike rides, and ice cream. We also went out to a Cape League baseball game and met up with a couple families from home - friends of the boys. It was great.
Aaron is never as happy as when he's on a boogie board.
A cloudy day means bumper boats and batting cages.
It was a beautiful night for baseball.
The boys could skip rocks for hours.
July 1, 2016
Presence, by Amy Cuddy. I read this as a part of our company book club. The author also did a TED Talk, but I enjoyed the book better than the talk. It's a fascinating book, although it does go on a bit too long. It could've been half the length and been just as effective. What is especially interesting are the studies that indicate how our body language influences our own confidence. I have found myself sitting up straighter and using more expansive positions, especially before presentations.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain. This is a pretty powerful book. Typically, when books are centered around a very short timeframe, I get bored with the minutiae and crave more action. This book is essentially focused on a single day, but it is peppered with flashbacks and enough drama and interesting dialogue that I never found myself skipping through or getting antsy. It's engaging and thought-provoking.
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie. My mom has read all the Agatha Christie books, and she's especially fond of Hercule Poirot, watching the PBS series as well. I know my dad was a fan, too, and he owned all the books. So I realized at some point that it seemed odd that I had never read a single one! I figured that needed to change. I went to the library and saw what they had available, and I figured I'd start with a famous one. I am proud to say that I've now read an Agatha Christie mystery - and it was tremendously fun! I can see why they are so addicting.
June 23, 2016
Summer can't come fast enough. We are just about there. Actually, I guess we are already technically there, since summer started a couple days ago, and the boys wrapped up their school years yesterday. But there's one last baseball game tonight, and one week to go before Nathan's birthday and the start of our first vacation. Again...it can't come fast enough.
It's been a wonderful couple of months, but it has moved at a hectic pace. We are all craving a change in routine. One that is quieter, and more open. Yesterday, Nathan asked me, "When can we have a day when we have absolutely nothing planned?" "Sunday", was my reply.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about the alligator attack at Disney. Just a couple months ago, we were sitting on that exact beach, and the boys played in the sand near the water as we waited for the movie to start. My heart literally aches at the thought of what happened to that little boy and what that family will have to endure for the rest of their lives. I can't help but think of the seemingly randomness of life. Why that little boy? Why not one of the thousands of others who have dipped their toes in those waters? Why not one of mine? (And my heart aches more.)
I talk with fellow mothers about our children, making plans and decisions and exchanging stories. It's good to talk it out with people who get it. Parenting is hard, and we all want to get it right. I can second-guess myself, and I recognize that we are not always consistent with the boys. I think we're doing pretty well so far, but I will never let down my guard.
I need more yoga in my life. How to make it happen?
I am going through a leadership program at work right now, and it has caused me to be very introspective. We get evaluated not only on the hard skills, but there is also a lot of focus on our personality types and history and understanding why we are the way we are and how that influences our decisions and perceptions and performance at work. It's interesting and eye-opening in many ways.
Meanwhile, I am wrapping up my current project and will be moving on to a new client soon. Consulting is a difficult occupation for someone who is not fond of change.
But before I start anything new, I will enjoy a week at the Cape with family. I can't wait to relax on the beach, close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, and listen to the waves.
And before that, I will celebrate my Nathan, who turns 7 next week. (!) We will have a gaggle of boys running around the yard playing all manner of sport and hopefully having a blast. I can't wait.
I don't want to wish any time away. I am going to appreciate every moment, including tonight's last baseball game (coaching a team of 7-year-old boys has been the highlight of my spring).
Summer is here! Hooray!